Why does the smell of bonfire smoke get into your clothes/hair so quickly?

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Offline dentstudent

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And stay there! Also cigarette smoke seems to too. Is there some different molecular bond?

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Offline chris

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This occurs for the same reason that towels can dry you off after a shower - the fabric has a massive surface area to which molecules can become attached or embedded. So when a "smoke" molecule wafts through your jumper it is like passing the smoke through the filter on the tip of a cigarette. The molecules are trapped in the fibres of the clothing. Also, certain aspects of the chemistry of the soot and the fibre may make the marrying of the two more energetically favourable. For example soot particles contain a lot of hydrocarbons, which have a natural lipophilic (fat-loving) attraction for other oil-based chemicals - like nylon.

Chris
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Offline dentstudent

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Thanks Chris. Does that also mean that someone who likes food with a high fat content is a "lipophile"?

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Offline Bored chemist

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There's also a fairly specific hydrogen bonding interaction between phenols (which account for quite a lot of the smell) and amides like proteins eg hair and also like nylon.
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